Lack of money is why it’s important to be proactive, says Nicki Washington, a Howard University computer science instructor, author of Prepped for Success: What Every Parent Should Know About the College Application Process.
Among other things, Washington recommends that students:
Start Early. Start thinking about applying for scholarships as early as freshman year in high school. “A lot of parents tend to tell me you can’t even apply until you’re a senior. But that’s too late to think of these things,” Washington said, explaining that it’s important to know what winning a particular scholarship requires, such as extracurricular activities and a competitive GPA.
* AP Courses. Though they may not always be readily available, try to take Advanced Placement courses in high school instead of going the easy route. The courses better prepare students for the rigors of college and offer the opportunity to get college credit while in high school, thereby saving money on their college education. The courses help students get admitted to college and win scholarships, Washington says. “What they don’t realize is that these universities’ scholarship committees … have such a large pool of applicants that they have to find those small things that help a student stand out.”
* FastWeb.com. Create an account on FastWeb, a website that enables students to search for scholarships, financial aid and student loans for which they are eligible. Though many of the scholarships may be for modest amounts, others can be for tens of thousands of dollars.
* Work Study. Search for work-study options on campus, or opportunities to work within the college department of the student’s major. At the same time, be cautious about the psychological effect of off-campus opportunities in your field of study, especially those that pay well, because it could lead a student to think: “I already have the career. Why do I need the degree?” Students who drop out of college because they are enjoying a degree of pre-graduation career success, Washington said, may lose their job and find out the hard way that other companies won’t hire them without a degree.